No Holds Barred


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Scene Title No Holds Barred
Synopsis YouTube gets leaked an unedited version of The Advocate that was filmed on Wednesday and not airing until Sunday… while the real version will be considerably cut, YouTube bears it all…
Date January 15, 2011

Manhattan — Studio K

The non-audience of the Advocate consists of producers, techies, and film people alike. The intro score to the Advocate plays through the studio, giving credence to Russo’s lopsided grin. “Good evening folks! We have a packed show for you tonight with a particularly excellent panel and lots of interesting things to discuss.” He tucks his hands in his jacket pockets momentarily just to remove them again. He splays them in front of him. “So, I was recently criticized rather publicly by FOX for being some kind of bleeding hearts liberal. Which, hey, I dish it out, I can take it folks, but, it occurs to me I should at least address the fact that I saw them.”

There’s a small pause as he turns his face to the camera, “Can’t you see they got my bad side?” his lips twitch into a mischievous grin. With a hushed chuckle he shakes his head, “Ha. I’m kidding. Look, I will maintain my position despite the criticism. Which actually brings me to notions of social control. I implore you to think about these things before buying into them. You know, one hundred years ago we medicalized pregnancy— even though statistically mothers had better outcomes when giving birth at home, fifty years ago we medicalized homosexuality much to medicine’s determinant and the negative ramifications for basic human rights, thirty years ago we medicalized hyperkinesis rather than change the school system because it’s easier to control individuals than an already failing system.. have we not learned that medicalization isn’t always the solution? How is it we would want to suppress people for who they are genetically? Just some food for thought.”

Brad’s blue-eyed gaze cuts downward before rising back to the camera. “In other news Mayor Sylvia Lockheart’s whole Martin Luther King parade and her imminent support of the event is little more than a publicity stunt, but it’s still an important event. In fact, our staff is purposely going to pull together food boxes for all who need it. Evolved. Non-evolved. Anyone and everyone. Why?” He shoots the camera a soft smile, “Because it’s the right thing to do.”

He rubs his hands together and then changes thoughts and tones, ushering himself to his regular seat rather than his centre stage monologue spot. “Regardless of all that we have a thought-provoking show for you tonight!” His fingers lace in front of him as he assumes his comfortable blue-hued armchair askance his guests. “Tonight we have an incredible panel, as always. But more than that we want to think and reflect on terrorism. What does it mean? Who are terrorists? And what, psychologically, creates a terrorist? How do we enter their minds? How can we understand their thoughts? Particularly in terms of pro-evolved terrorism.” His lips press together into a thin line.

”Our panel today is here to discuss the modern terrorist, their roles, and everything about terrorism…” He glances at the production booth, “Without further adieu, let’s meet tonight’s panel.”

The camera pans outward to show the guests. “Our first guest is the esteemed Dr. Isabella Sheridan, licensed psychiatrist specializing in the needs of the SLC-Positive. She words at the Suresh Center on Roosevelt island as both as a practicing psychologist and a researcher.” The camera pans to the next on the panel, “Followed by the lovely Nicole Nichols, politico extraordinaire, Linderman Group executive, and former campaign coordinator for Jennifer Chesterfield.. And then, someone who our viewers should be well acquainted with, Magnes Varlane, former assistant to Tracy Strauss and highly engaged in our show.” And then the last member of the panel, “And Tracy Strauss, the Director of Communications for New York City, who worked on the Linderman Act. Currently she's involved in other legislation related to the Evolved, and is a big supporter of the Department of Evolved Affairs.”

Nicole can't keep the soft smile of admiration from her face when Bradley Russo tells his audience, both in the studio and in TV Land that giving out supplies to those in need is the right thing to do. But by the time the camera is focusing on her again, she appears pleasantly neutral, nodding her head after her introduction.

Bella is honestly surprised she was allowed to speak at all. When the call came, she accepted not thinking she'd have to even show. That she's be informed that it was a conflict of interest. That something would intervene allowing her to seethe comfortable, rankled by the system.

But whoops, looks like she's on TV. The redhead psychiatrist, still looking a pale despite applications in the makeup room, sits with her legs crossed under a three piece skirt suit, slate grey, with a green silk blouse beneath. There is a very slight agitation to her, basic stage nerves. She's performed in childrens' theater, that's about it. She's trying hard not to display stagefright before the glass eyes of millions.

"Brad, thank you for having me," Bella says, echoing accidentally every interview she's ever seen, "I admire your position on the issue of SLC-Positive rights, and as a member of the psychological discipline I can absolutely confirm the science's use to enforce an oppressive medico-legal system of power. I myself stand steadfastly against Registration, and consider our current state of martial law the logical conclusion to the line of reasoning the Linderman Act began. A terrorist, now, need be no more than a citizen who cannot endure the state of the world any longer, someone who sees no other choice. That is a direct symptom of oppression."

A blonde eyebrow goes up at Bella's assertion, but Tracy Strauss says nothing at first, her lips pressed into a fine red line. Pearls wink at her ears and throat, a compliment to the white jacket with black trim and ornate silver buttons she wears over a dress that's plain in comparison but at least matches the tinted nylons designed to slim her legs, which end in a pair of conservative heels.

When she does speak, it's a voice that, although soft, rings clear with quiet confidence. Unlike Bella, she does this for a living and cannot afford to have her hands seen shaking on public television. They remain in her lap. "Are we oppressing people when we fingerprint and ask potential applicants to submit to a tuberculosis test before allowing them to become employees of this nation's educational system, Dr. Sheridan?"

"Are you comparing SLC Expression to a disease?" Bella asks Tracy, her brow arching in turn, "a contagion? That seems like a rather clearly slanted comparison."

"I've said this before and I'll say it again, I support a registry, but not this privacy invading registry we currently have that does more to harm law-abiding citizens than the law breaking ones." Magnes speaks up finally, wearing a dark blue suit with an even darker blue tie over a white shirt. His own hands are in his lap, but only because he still habitually mimics Tracy Strauss whenever they're in the same room. "I do however support voluntary suppression, but I should note that if the government adds incentive to suppress, it is not voluntary. And the simple answer to terrorism is 'fear'. Fear breeds terrorism, the people who fear the terrorists, and the terrorists who fear the people that fear them."

"Thank you all for joining us," Russo smoothes his tie and gives the top a small tug as he shoots the camera that winning smile, his infamous charming grin. "And thank you for your thoughts Dr. Sheridan, Ms. Strauss." It's already promising to be an excellent panel. "I think that's probably a good starting point: what does a terrorist look like? When we see pictures or hear about wanted terrorists are we merely looking at desperate people in desperate situations? Are they merely fearful people? Or is there something else going on?"

Nicole finds herself less at ease with this line of questioning than she expected to. The feeling may actually be more adequately described as supremely uncomfortable. She crosses her legs at the ankles demurely, the only sign of a fidget she indulges. Okay, and she maybe unnecessarily adjusts the cuffs of her white blazer over her electric blue blouse. The matching Chuck Taylors are meant to appear out of place when compared to the sharp lines of the rest of her attire.

"They're called terrorists, but some also call them revolutionaries." It's not a popular opinion to give a voice to, but Nicole does it anyway. "These people, some of them, believe that they're fighting against an oppressive and tyrannical system. They don't do what they do to strike fear into the hearts of the average law-abiding citizen, which is the definition of what a terrorist does." This is a dangerous topic.

Tracy draws her lips into a tight smile. "There were six hundred and forty-four deaths attributed to TB in the United States in 2006," she says. "One hundred and fifty thousand lives were lost that same year when an individual who could not control his ability produced a ten kiloton explosion from which this city has yet to recover. In the years since, hundreds more have died in smaller, more isolated incidents, including a sixty-two car pile-up in Connecticut caused by a young man who can induce unconsciousness within a one hundred and fifty meter radius, and a string deaths in Nevada after one of the dealers at a Las Vegas casino was discovered to have been secreting poison from his hands.

"In both these cases, which occurred in the months prior to registration becoming mandatory for everyone, neither individual was registered as SLC-positive and claimed not to be aware. Had they taken the test previously and attended classes at the Suresh Center, as we encourage all unmanifested individuals to do, there is a strong chance they could have recognized the symptoms of their respective abilities before those accidents occurred. And they are victims. Please don't misconstrue what I'm saying this time, Dr. Sheridan. The Linderman Act is there as a safety net for those of us who are Evolved and those of us who are not."

Tracy presses out a slow breath. "Terrorists, on the other hand, aren't. Victims. Neither are they particularly desperate for anything except attention and the public spotlight, and their accusations frankly have no evidence to back them up."

"Some more moderate measures may need to be considered, a system of support put in place," Bella says, gesturing towards Magnes to indicate she's addressing his statement, "but the current incarnation has led to not-so-subtle attempts at ghettoization and the imposition of marital law. Ms. Strauss, can you seriously support any administration that suspended Posse Comitatus? Habeus Corpus? The Bomb was a terrible event, but it was a singular event. A horrific tragedy, but one that is being answered with the basis for only further tragedy."

Bella's gaze cuts over to Nicole. "Creating that latter definition of terrorist is already, I think, dubious. Positing the existence of some theoretical, Iago-like conscienceless monster that acts on the basis of causing fear itself. Some individuals like that may exist, but the vast majority of terrorists, I am sure, however disordered or paranoid, acted out of some ideological basis. Some ideal of their own. People do not give up everything, risk their own lives, for attention," now back to Tracy, "even if they are imbalanced, the conditions of their lives made them that way. Even the UNAbomber had a manifesto."

Tracy snorts. "You've obviously never had the pleasure of meeting Phoenix's Helena Dean."

"You misunderstand me, Doctor Sheridan," Nicole responds gently to the pointed comment. "I don't believe the majority of the people the government is currently looking for are terrorists at all. Simply individuals rebelling at a broken system. I don't… advocate, for lack of a better word, the methods being employed by these people. But I do support their cause. I am in your corner, Doctor. There are simply… Far more legal routes that should be taken to enact change."

Then, Nicole's blonde counterpart gets her attention. "Miss Strauss, I am a great admirer of your career, and find you to be a fiercely intelligent woman. Your accomplishments are many. But surely you can see this is a flawed system. Your heart is in the right place, if what you say is true about only wanting to prevent tragedy where you can, but don't you feel there has to be a better way than segregation?"

"I think you're missing the point that most pro-registration individuals miss." Magnes gestures a hand in Tracy's direction. "Which is the fact that there's an unnecessary invasion of privacy involved. Just because you have a powerful ability doesn't mean that you should suddenly become a target with all of your information made public. If anything, it encourages people not to register. And many of these terrorists are victims, they feel victimized and become terrorists as a result, because many things in the current system are unfair."

Then Bella says something, and him, not getting the reference at all, seems to jump to a bit of a conclusion. "You can't just mention Iago on national television!"

Russo manages a tight smile as he glances up at the production booth, but there's something nearly indiscernible in his eyes. It's moderately pained, moderately. Like he has a dull ache in his bones. With a smirk directed at the booth he turns his head to look back at the panel, "I think Nico— Miss Nicholas has raised an important point. Most revolutionaries at one point or another are labelled terrorists, but so do our other panellists. Clearly, as Ms. Strauss stated, there has been an extreme loss of life at the hands of terrorists in this country who are perhaps, fearful. Who, according to Dr. Sheridan, are positing some ideology. And who, according to Mister Varlane feel victimized."

Russo swallows hard as he turns back to the camera, purposely avoiding any eye contact with the production booth. His throat clears irritably as he tries to redirect the conversation. "I suppose that begs questions about ideologies and constructive ways to promote them— what are some positive means of creating space for dissent? Does martial law even enable pro-social means of dissent? If people are upset with their government and its means of control, how can they dissent?"

Magnes gets a weird, halfway hollow look from Bella as his words drop into the well of her mind but never seem to reach the bottom. Only then… plink. "Mr. Varlane, you're confusing that character with the Scottish King. It's the Scottish Play you can't mention on stage." Misunderstanding for misunderstanding.

"And Brad, simply put, but declaring martial law, rule by the most direct force available, the government has sent a clear message: violence is the terms in which this discussion will take place," Bella says, nodding emphatically, "while I endorse peaceful acts of civil disobedience, I cannot but feel sympathy for those who answer blows with blows. It may not be the high road, but it is the field of engagement as has been dictated by this administration."

Tracy runs her tongue across her front teeth. "As an Evolved individual myself whose registration card identifies her as belonging to the second tier," she says, "I can say that I fully support the decisions that Raymond Praeger has made as the Secretary of the DoEA. Both he and the Petrelli administration have our best interests at heart.

"I do wish the same could be said of your revolutionaries, freedom fighters, or whatever it is that they're calling themselves, but every day there's more and more paperwork coming across my desk that points to the contrary. Take the Ferrymen network for example. It supports itself by preying on the fearful and convincing entire families that their loved ones will be disappeared if they aren't smuggled out of the United States. These individuals are clearing out entire savings accounts and sometimes demanding tens of thousands of dollars for their services, and as soon as their victims have been shipped out across the border with botched paperwork that won't do them any good where they're going, the network sells what material possessions they couldn't take with them. We had one case where a family's vacated home was being used to store enough firearms and ammunition to arm an entire police precinct. This is a business for these people, and quite a lucrative one at that. It's been going on for years. When the situation escalates, they benefit from it, and are doing everything in their power to make sure the current trend continues. Martial law isn't permanent, but it's the only way to effectively combat what it is this administration is dealing with."

Tracy's words leave Nicole positively bristling. She wants to stand up and tell her, That's a lie! But how would she know? An absent reach of the fingers of her right hand to push up her left sleeve to scratch an itch proves that the hairs on the back of her arms are standing up. She swiftly tugs the fabric back into place without so much as a widening of her eyes and resolves to redirect her energies.

She locks her gaze with Brad's for a moment too long to be anything but meaningful before she takes a deep breath and begins to speak. "If the people want change, then this city, and this country needs new leadership. And she needs her people to speak out, and vote."

Miss Nichols turns her attention to the audience, shifting in her seat to better address those present. "If you don't like the state of martial law, vote for someone who agrees with you. If you don't like the way registration is being handled, vote for someone who feels the same way. If you don't like feeling like a criminal because of your genetics, vote for someone who thinks you shouldn't have to feel that way."

Magnes raises an eyebrow at Bella, but otherwise just drops his line of Iago thoughts. "As someone who has spoken to people who have had deep interaction with the Ferry, I can say with a hundred percent confidence that they are not profiting from what they do. They have a hard enough time finding enough food for themselves every day, and trying not to freeze to death in the winter. They do what they do with a great deal of risk. I don't condone terrorism or illegal action in any way, I want to make that clear, but I also want to un-spin the PR wheel. And speaking of…"

He's on Tracy again, arms crossed in his seat with intensely furrowed brows. "As far as having 'no evidence' for claims, that's the same thing people used to say about Moab. But I guess that's just lies and slander still, correct? And as far as you being registered and fully supporting the Petrelli adminstration, all I have to say to that is that you're an incredibly dedicated PR woman, so good job." He raises his hands and claps twice.

Bella examines Tracy for a long moment before reaching into her suit pocket and extracting a laminated badge. She lifts it in front of her. "Would someone get a close up of this? I would like the viewers to see what I have here."

What she has is a DoEA badge, with her redheaded self peering out of the photo. Her name and other vital statistics printed by her image.

"I am an employee of the Department of Evolved Affairs, a subordinate of Raymond Praeger and on the government payroll. I work every day beside men and women in civil service that do mean well, and have good intentions. But I will also say that if this administration is not heading towards fascist then it is simply bungling, and that the fact that any group could so extensively convince so many SLC-Positive citizens that they are in danger from the government is evidence of that government's thorough incompetence if not their evil."

She slowly lowers the badge, giving Magnes a nod. "And I believe Mr. Varlane speaks as a former intern of Ms. Strauss, does he not? We're not outsiders. We know what is going on."

Usually, it's Brad… But this time, it's the Future Missus Russo casting a look up to the production booth. Oh, Kristen. Please say you cut to commercial as soon as Varlane opened his mouth.

"In case our viewers aren't aware of the extent of martial law and the imminent concerns that follow it, I think it's important that we establish anything goes in terms of governmental control under it. This means that for any reason a person can be charged with treason and vanish somewhere amid the system." Russo is outright ignoring the production booth now, choosing to focus on the panel itself as he twists in his chair to blatantly ignore whoever is the disembodied voice in his ear. "In many respects, it is a war in violence. It's a declaration of where the lines have been drawn. In others, martial law only occurred because of violence." He summarizes as best he can.

"Will voting even work under the guise of martial law? Will the declaration be rescinded as quickly as it came down or is that even possible? Can a new administration make a difference when it comes to the safety of the average citizen? And is it possible for both SLC-expressive and non-expressive people find some semblance of safety within a governmental net?"

He redirects as best he can, hopefully away from the Ferry and who Magnes may or may not know.

"I'm sure Dr. Sheridan's employment with the Department of Evolved Affairs as a psychiatrist, whatever it is that entails, and I doubt it involves speaking with any of these individuals as Mr. Varlane claims to, gives her all sorts of legitimate political insight." Tracy's tone is dry, but its edge is cold; Russo is not that lucky. "It's been awhile since we've spoken, Magnes, but please: enlighten America. What have you learned from your sources, and why haven't you shared it previously. If you know what's going on, as Dr. Sheridan so aptly pointed out, then surely you're aware of the standing order to bring the Ferrymen and their associates into custody?"

"I know exactly what I just told you, which is of no real consequence to the government, since you'll always put a spin on it. And good luck bringing dead people in. I've said before that I lost a lot of friends because of what's going on, any associates I had are long dead, and I'll be damned if I'm going to use them to win some argument with you." Magnes narrows his eyes at Tracy, quickly spitting out, "And let's not get into certain associations you've had in the past. I think we'll all be happy if we just move on."

Threats dulled out, fangs flashed, he's back on Russo's topic. "I agree that we should encourage people to vote, but as of late it feels like things are working closer toward government control. Curfew has been hurting businesses for months, and by proxy, the economy, but the government refused to do anything about it. Now the 8th has come and gone, curfew is still active, and now there's even more of a strain on what we can and can't do. It's as if the economy doesn't even matter anymore, and we're moving closer to being some sort of police state."

"Any idiot can see what's going on right in front of their noses," Bella states, flatly, gaze leveled on Tracy, "I hope you know less than I do, Ms. Strauss, otherwise believing what you believe is simply unforgivable. And here, making an example of a young man and his friends on national television? Do you enjoy this? Does it give you a sense of thrill?"

There is, admittedly, not a lot of substance to her words right now. It's mostly heckling at this point. She doesn't know what it means, what Magnes has just said. For all that she is outspoken and bitter, she doesn't want to come under suspicion at her work.

A hand comes up and presses over Nicole's mouth, unable to disguise the horror of the moment as Magnes and Bella both speak out so openly against the government. And Tracy calls them both on it. And they respond.

If Nicole were a religious woman, she may actually make the sign of the cross over her body. "Bradley," she hisses between teeth and fingers pressed against lips, her head shaking swiftly, if only fractionally.

For the first time in the history of the show, Russo's eyes widen slightly as his breath catches in his throat. His smile remains, charming as always, yet there's something somewhat dulled within it— an odd lacklustre quality as he tries to form words following the little bitter bites between his guests. Fingers steeple while his smile regains its brilliance. He needs to bring them in; he needs to gain some sense of control.

With a solid sniff, his gaze shifts betweens each in turn. "I think," he begins, "what my esteemed panelists are arguing against is the possibility of creating a police state, recognizing full-well," he pauses again, "that the current administration has been doing what they can to address the concerns of all citizens, but also— " his gaze shifts between them, "— the potential for martial law to be misrepresented."

Recognizing he can't just glaze over the bitter insults between panelists he counters, "Ms. Strauss, Doctor Sheridan has plenty of insight to offer on the states of minds of terrorists. Mister Varlane has plenty to offer in terms of being around these topics. And while you may have the proverbial political upper hand, and my understanding is you appreciate any situation where you can be on top as heard on this very program once upon a time— " take that any way you like, Tracy "— I would appreciate it if you wouldn't cut my panel and their competence. We all do politics. Last I checked, the United States of America is a democratic country, that means we, the people have some measure of control over our country. We are all in this. We all have political insights because we live here."

Recognizing his own tangent, perhaps at the urging the booth, he pulls back, "I suppose that should be our closing question. Can the average citizen begin to negotiate their way through martial law? Can they feign to understand the minds of their leaders, and if not, should they be considering new leadership?"

Tracy leans back in her seat and crosses one leg over the other. Her face's features are as icy as her voice and what would be gathering under her fingernails if she had less control over her ability. The only symptom of emotion is the hue of her eyes, a sharp blue that's brightened significantly since the show began airing. "I'm sure Dr. Sheridan is among the brightest in her profession," she tells Russo, "but her profession is what it is, and I don't question her competence, only her qualifications and whether or not they entitle her to make broad, sweeping generalizations about the government. My apologies."

She doesn't sound very sorry at all, but that's probably not surprising. "As for Mr. Varlane, he's just admitted to being friends with the men and women who planned the attack on the Staten Island University Hospital last August so they could gain access to the stores of Refrain its doctors were using for medical testing." And she's looking directly at Bella when she says it. "I don't know, Mr. Russo, but you're right, and your fiance brought up an excellent point earlier in the programme. We are a democratic country. One that voted for Nathan Petrelli in 2008, and I believe will vote again in 2012, but if its people don't like what it's become, then they're free to elect a different leader. No one is going to be disappeared for expressing their opinion, contrary to what Helena Dean will tell you."

She smiles thin. "That Mr. Varlane and Dr. Sheridan are still sitting right here with me is proof enough."

That's maybe a joke.


"I stated quite clearly that I used to know people who were associated with the Ferry, I did not at all say I was associated with the Ferry themselves, as I do not condone terrorism and illegal activity. But that's how it is with you, truth goes into your ears and something completely different comes from your mouth." Magnes gestures to Tracy and looks into the camera. "Your tax dollars at work, people. Lies and misdirection, the person in charge of making the President look good and the rest of us look like asses. You should be happy I'm a good person, Miss Strauss, because I could completely ruin you right now on national television. But I'm taking the high road, unlike you."

"Is that a promise?" Bella says, cocking her head, looking at Tracy, "I feel much safer now, you know that?" She folds her arms across her chest, leaning back a little in her chair. "I'm glad to know you'll support my and Mr. Varlane's continued outspokenness, free from fear of reprisal."

This is more than one woman can stand. Nicole rises from her seat, tugging off her lapel mic and the pack clipped to the back of her slacks, tossing the whole kit down on to the chair she occupied. "I can't be a party to this trainwreck," she murmurs for the benefit of her fellow panelists, and her host. A finger jabbed in Brad's direction, accompanied with a very warning glare wards him off. Don't talk to me. Someone isn't getting any tonight.

A nod is given at Tracy's non-apology. It's lip service, but Brad will take it for what it is. "Those are all valuable insights."

Russo opens his mouth to speak again but is quickly interrupted by the closing tune. They're out of time for the night. With a twitch of a smile and a wickeder expression shot to the booth, Brad knits his fingers together on his lap. His head shakes slightly and he turns back to the cameras, "That's all the time we have for tonight, folks. But as we wrap, I just want you to remember some important things. First, get the information you need to make informed political decisions." He brings a single hand to his chest, "Don't let us just spoon feed it to you. Take it upon yourselves to get what you need to be informed. Give what you can to the political process."

"Second, if you have an issue with any control in your life. Medicalization, economic, political— picking up a gun, or using an evolved ability to further your cause is neither constructive nor helpful. Peaceful means of objection are helpful." His lips curl into a small reminiscent smile, "There was something my mother used to tell me. Bradley Benjamin Russo— " yes, he just middle-named himself on air "— no one can hear you when you're shouting." His throat clears, "She meant that no one would get the message if it was too loud, or too outrageous. Extreme actions disregard your argument."

At this, the camera's fade.

And that's a wrap.

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